Saving Money on Holiday Travel
Holiday travel can be very stressful, but it’s not just the crowds and busy roads that can cause you anxiety. The cost of taking a vacation can also be a concern—accommodation, travel, and entertaining the kids can be expensive. The good news is that you don’t need to live like Scrooge to enjoy your time off. Here’s how you can enjoy a great trip without blowing the budget.
If you’re locked in to certain dates for your vacation because of school holidays or work requirements, book your trip as early as possible. For example, if you know you must see your mom in Los Angeles at Thanksgiving, book it months or even a year in advance for the best deal. The later you leave it, the more expensive flights will be. Do your research and know what a good price is when you see it. Then, when a deal comes along, take it. Don’t pass it up hoping you’ll find a better one. Sign up for Airfarewatchdog fare alerts, which will notify you by email when the price for your particular route is low.
The more flexible you are with your plans, the better your chances of saving money. Being able to spot the best price first and adjusting your plans around that can make for a less expensive trip. You can also take advantage of off-peak travel times such as Christmas Day. When looking for airfares, most of the online search engines have an option where you can see fares for your route over several days and weeks.
Also be flexible in terms of your airport. Many times, it’s cheaper to fly out of the smaller airport than it is out of the big, international one. Most online search engines also have a feature that show fares for neighboring airports.
Ship Your Gifts
Most of the airlines, Southwest and JetBlue being the exception, charge fees for checked bags, even for the first one. In addition, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel may unwrap presents for inspection. Instead of lugging presents with you, buy them online and have them shipped directly to the recipients in time for your arrival. Many online retailers have a gift wrap option, too. Also see whether shipping your packages through USPS, FedEx, or UPS will cost less than your airline’s baggage fee.
Move Your Holiday
It’s great to have aspirations and desires for your trip, but be open to moving your destination to a closer or less expensive option. If you and the family are thinking about the big-name destinations but just can’t stretch the budget that far, consider smaller and lesser-known destinations where hotel, dining, and entertainment costs are typically lower. Instead of heading to Orlando for Disney World over Christmas, for example, your family may also enjoy going to LEGOLAND in California or a Six Flags a few states over. You can find great family destinations just a short flight or drive away that will still create cherished family memories.
Remember, holiday travel should be fun and relaxing, not stressful. With these tips in mind, you’ll soon be on your way to a financially worry-free vacation.